Following last night’s 5-4 victory at the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, the Islanders went to the other half of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis, to practice at the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena.
Ridder Arena is home to the four-time National Champion Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s ice hockey team. The rink is NHL regulation size, while the adjacent Mariucci Arena, home to the University of Minnesota men’s ice hockey team, is an Olympic-sized sheet.
Mariucci was the home rink in college for three current Islanders: Thomas Vanek (02-04), Kyle Okposo (06-07) and Aaron Ness (08-11).
Vanek in particular made a lasting impact at ‘The U,’ being named the Most Outstanding Player at the 2003 Frozen Four en route to a National Championship.
Although the Gophers didn’t win a title while Okposo was enrolled, he finished his freshman season second on the team in scoring with 40 points (19g/21a) in 40 games and was named Gophers Rookie of the Year.
Michael Grabner was on the ice for practice after missing last night's game with an illness, but is still considered day-today.
Josh Bailey briefly skated, but left practice early. He is still considered day-to-day.
They Said It:
It was a good career. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people and a lot of great coaches. The atmosphere here is obviously amazing, so it was fun to get back and see where everything took off. - Aaron Ness on practicing at his alma mater.